By: Nassim Khadem
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in April flagged changes to the Citizenship Act and Migration Act, which is being examined by a Senate inquiry. Photo: AAP
The federal government's plans to tighten requirements to become an Australian citizen have been slammed by business groups who say their members are worried migrant workers awaiting permanent residency may leave Australia, rather than wait for citizenship.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in April flagged changes to the Citizenship Act and Migration Act, which are being examined by a Senate inquiry.
The draft legislation includes a number of proposals, including extending the wait for permanent residents to four years, instead of one, before they are eligible to apply for citizenship. It also proposes a new citizenship test and a pledge of allegiance to Australia and a requirement to display Australian values.
Applicants will need a "competent" instead of "basic" proficiency in English. Although the legislation does not spell out what this is, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has previously said English proficiency will equate to level six of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Government losing groundBut Diversity Council Australia's chief executive Lisa Annese said her business members were concerned that the extended permanent residency requirement would make Australia a less attractive business destination. Ms Annese said the retrospective nature of the proposed changes was "deeply unfair".
Combined with the 457 visa changes, it had sent corporates "into a tail spin", since many of the nation's largest companies had skilled workers on major projects whose future was now in doubt.
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